Mobile menu

Queen Mary’s fans with royal associations

This is a free copy of Gainsborough's full-length portrait of 1781 (RCIN 401407). It is one of a pair (RCIN 405195-6) listed at Kensington Palace with an attribution to Gainsborough's nephew, Gainsborough Dupont. If thgis is right, they may be t

Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) ©

Queen Mary’s fans had been assembled from her earliest years. They arrived as birthday presents, as bequests from her grandmother Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, in 1889 (see Fan depicting 'Bacchus and Ariadne' and Fan depicting 'Fredrick, Duke of York'), as wedding presents on her marriage in 1893, as bequests from her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck in 1897 (see fan depicting the Aldobrandini wedding) – or as miscellaneous gifts and purchases throughout a long and eventful life.

The Queen was particularly proud of her descent from George III and Queen Charlotte, through her maternal grandfather, the Duke of Cambridge (George III’s seventh son, Prince Adolphus). In the 1920s she acquired the fans with printed leaves issued at the time of George III’s marriage, and his visit to the Royal Academy. Queen Mary was tireless in tracking down and adding to the Royal Collection items which had once belonged to George III and his family. Among these was the beautiful ‘Blind Man’s Buff’ fan and the trompe l’oeil lace fan, both of which are associated with Queen Charlotte, and were given to Queen Mary by friends; also, the ivory brisé fan decorated with portraits of three of George III’s sons, Queen Mary’s great uncles.

The Queen delighted in using the fans in her possession. In 1952 she noted that the ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ fan was ‘in use’.